SO much has been happening so fast! We set em up, knock em down, and then run to fetch the ones that got away.
We found a house to rent! Much much thanks to Florian for boarding the bus day after day and vetting properties for us. It was a harder process than we expected, but I am looking forward to our new home, and that is saying something!
Our new home is a semi-detached house (only one shared wall) in a community called Lewisham (Lewis-ham? Lewish-um?), which is just to the north of Bromley- about a 10 minute bus ride to David’s new work, close to shopping, close to schools (depending on which one we get into), and with all the normal low-crime, decent infastructure sorts of things one looks for in a neighborhood. Knock wood. The house itself has three bedrooms, 1 bath and two “reception rooms”, which are basically designed to be a Living Room and Dining Room, but which are currently being used as bedrooms in a house-sharing arrangement. We don’t yet have the dimensions on those, so we aren’t yet entirely sure how we will use the space. But, it looks like it will give us options, which is good. Especially because the third bedroom is quite small- not Harry Potter’s Closet small, but “Room for bed and a dresser and not much else” small. This, we have discovered, is quite typical for the area. The house also has a large (for London) yard (they call it a garden) with grass and a patio and a shed. And they will definitely allow us to have pets! YAY! As we got further into the vetting process, we realized how important that was to us. We *really* want to have a dog! So, here are a few pictures from the place:
Other good things: we managed to jump through all the hoops of distance-renting a house from a different country. Glitches included things like: our bank account doesn’t use the “sort code” expected by British banking, our German landlord thought the inquiry the agent sent him was English Spam and deleted it, all 21 pages of the signed and initialed contract needed to be scanned and emailed back. Took me an hour, but we have, in fact, leased this house!
Also good: Many check-marks showing up in many boxes. We are finishing up all our medical Stuff. DD just got her braces off, DH almost has his full replacement tooth done, I have all my medical records (actually a small number of crucial ones) and am scheduled for a few tests before I go, just to make sure I am clear while insurance gets set up. Hogwarts is cooperating in trying to help DD get set up for college applications before we leave. DS is having a lot of social time with his friends.
Now we are facing a slew of problems that managed all to hit at once, as such things are wont to do. First and foremost is the saga of the car. As I mentioned before, we found out that we will not be allowed to take our car with us to England because it is prohibited in our auto-financing agreement. After 40 minutes of being swapped back and forth among different departments of VW financing (neither Leasing nor Loans wanted to claim us), David was finally told just to go in to our dealership and discuss the hand-off there.
When he arrived, the dealer told him that, yes, we could return the car 5 months early, but then we would be responsible for the depreciated value of the car. David had already looked up blue book values and realized that the car is now worth roughly $7,000 less than our loan was for. In short, the dealer wanted us to eat this depreciation. David, much to their surprise, simply said “No”. He pointed out that as we currently had possession of the car and were about to move to another country, our negotiating position was not really weak. I had to giggle. I definitely would have been looking for another solution, but just staring down a sales-guy with a flinty “No” is not my typical skill-set. More the power to the Husband!
“What,” DH mused, “would happen if we took the car, that we were currently ready to surrender without fuss, to the UK? You could repossess it, sure- but what would we care? We are ready to turn it in now. What would happen, if, instead, we just left the car here for 5 months before returning it? In neither scenario do we pay $7,000 for depreciation, do we?”
The dealer blanched and offered to find a better solution. [Note, we don’t actually want to play shenanigans. Not our style, at all! On the other hand, though, we aren’t prepared to pay $7,000 for the privilege of returning a car 5 months early. The one big benefit of leasing is that you *don’t* have to absorb the market depreciation of a vehicle beyond your payments, since, well, you don’t actually own it.] Currently, the proposal is that we will bring the car in on Monday and they will evaluate the damage–we will be liable to pay for that (as we had already agreed) and then they will file new paperwork for us to return the car in October instead of March. All of which, seems reasonable… but we will see.
Complicating that mess further was what happened yesterday. As I was waiting to pick the kids up at school, parked in the Pick Up lane, the woman in the car in front of me acquired her daughter (a girl in DD’s class, as it happens), started her car and backed up 1/2 a car’s length right into my bumper! “I didn’t even look!” she said. Yeah… I had a suspicion. Talk about your awkward introductions. She gave me her information and I reported it to our insurance. There isn’t a lot of damage, but our license plate would serve as a pretty good gutter, now…. concave, it is. The German dealership is pretty picayune about the damage they note on their forms (is that scratched paint over the wheel well? Here, use my magnifying glass!), so we know we will need to deal with this. It just got tossed onto the pile.
Let us just say that was the capper on a pretty rotten day, yesterday.
The other currently problematic issue: Movers. We used a website that allowed movers to bid for your move. After receiving bids, we selected one. Before hiring them, we double-checked out inventory list, and I realized that with the Washing machine in the kitchen of the new house, we would not need to bring the washer/dryer. I went to the list and removed those two items. Satisfied, we clicked the appropriate buttons, made the appropriate payment, and hired our movers. But, when the paperwork arrived, David realized that there was something wrong. ALL of our 50 boxes and some-odd bags were missing from the list. Poof. They had vanished when I made the change, apparently. So, now we had hired a company to only move 1/2 of what needed taking! Crap. Luckily, David’s take is that these guys are not trying to be jerks about it. Unfortunately, they had only scheduled a small truck for our move and think they need a larger one or two trucks now…. That probably means more money, and scheduling headaches. They are supposed to call us back Saturday with proposed solutions…. If it is too spendy, of course, we just have to eat our deposit loss and hire someone else. But, UGH. So, stay tuned.
Everything else. We just got disturbing news from our HR team at the new company: they are complete newbs and have NEVER done a UK Visa before! Oh gawd. Ours is a little complicated, too, because we have to be filed under priority work designations, etc. Not an emergency now… knock wood…. but we have fears that future headaches may be to come.
I wrote to the closest school on our list to see what steps we need to get DS enrolled. They referred me to the equivalent of the District Office. This office only had email forms that indicate they will “get back to you within 10 business days”…. it has been 3… we shall see!
Once we have the movers tacked down, we can arrange for getting our plane tickets, rental car and hotel booking.
The apartment is slowly getting organized, packed, cleaned, etc. We have almost a month to finish that, so no pressure yet.
SO there you have it. A snapshot of our current efforts. Hopefully by next week some of these trickier things will be resolved and we can get down to the job of organizing, packing, dumping and selling our Stuff.
T- 24 and counting!!!
Did I mention Bromley has a Krispy Kreme? It is seeping into my daydreams now….